Most of us are happy to use our smartphones for day-to-day photography but if you want something a bit more substantial then you’re going to need a dedicated camera.
The good news is that a decent camera will last you for quite a few years – but the bad news is that it can be tough to know where to start.
Either you’re going to want to go whole-hog and pick up a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) or you’ll be happy with a smaller point-and-shoot.
The real thing to look for is interchangeable lenses and is these that will give you the best shot.
Even if you don’t want to deep dive into settings like ISO or White Balance, these cameras will have capable automatic settings that will pick up brilliant pictures.
They’ll also shoot video as well – meaning they can double up as a functioning camcorder. If you want to add extras like external flashes, microphones or tripods, you can quickly build yourself an impressive photography kit.
Here are the top ten cameras we recommend checking out, for a variety of different budgets.
1. Nikon D850 – £3249
Kicking things off with one of the best DSLRs out there at the moment, the D850 is undeniably pricey but it’s got everything you need to last you for years to come.
There’s a 45.4MP full-frame sensor backed with a 153-point autofocus system, meaning it’s lightning quick and finding focus. There’s a 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen on the back and the image quality is fantastic whether you’re shooting portrait or landscape.
You can buy it with a 24-120mm lens and then add more lenses to your arsenal once your wallet recovers from the initial outlay.
2. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III – £749
The attractive Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a mirrorless camera that is compact and lightweight. That doesn’t come at the expense of durability, though. This is a camera you can chuck in your bag and whip out at a moment’s notice.
It’s got an electronic viewfinder, a 16.1MP sensor and a burst shooting speed of 8.6fps. If you’re looking for a camera to double as a camcorder, this one will shoot video in 4K resolution and has a 5-axis stabilisation system.
All told, a great snapper that will see you comfortably progress from beginner to professional.
3. Canon EOS 80D – £1089
The Canon EOS 80D is a great all-rounder DSLR that has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (near-field communication) which means you can send photos directly to your phone or upload them to a social network.
Image quality is excellent across the board and the moveable 3.2-inch touchscreen is very useful – ergonomics have always been a plus point for Canon’s EOS cameras. There’s Canon’s accomplished 24MP APS-C sensor inside that’s helped along by the Japanese company’s DUal Pixel CMOS AF system.
Given that it hits the sweet spot between price and performance, this is a firm favourite for anyone looking for a competent mid-range DSLR.
4. Sony A7 III – £1849
You may not believe it with this price, but the A7 series from Sony is one of the more affordable options in its line-up. It’s a great general purpose shooter that has a full frame, 24.2MP sensor with the option for 4K video recording.
Sony has improved the battery power this time around and given the autofocus a few tweaks. Ergonomics and handling are great and, as you would expect, the image quality is supurb.
Purists may prefer an optical viewfinder rather than the electronic one present here, but all told this is a great camera to pick up for 2018.
5. Fuji X-T20 – £889
If you’re not quite ready to step up to the Fujifilm X-T2 then this is a more affordable alternative with many of the T2’s features packed in.
There’s an 8 frames-per-second burst shooting mode and a APS-C sensor that’ll also shoot video at 4K resolution.
We also love this camera because of the attractive metallic design and the analogue-style metal dials that you can use to swap modes. The 3-inch tilting touchscreen is housed nicely in the back. Gadget aficionados are also in awe of the OLED viewfinder.
A great-looking camera that is worthy of a place in any photographer’s kit bag.
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6. Panasonic Lumix G80 – £749
This mid-ranger from Panasonic is a mirrorless camera aimed at entry-level users who want a few features to get to grips with as they improve their photography.
For example, there’s one called Post Focus that lets you select the point you want to sharpen up and place in focus after the picture has been taken. It’s also got excellent ergonomics and a splashproof body that will survive being taken out and about in search of that perfect landscape shot.
You can also shoot 4K video with the built-in image stabilisation and despite the relatively small 16MP sensor, it still produces some fantastic images.
7. Sony RX100 IV – £649
Sony has plenty of different compact cameras to choose from, but this makes it onto our list for a couple of different reasons. For starters, you get excellent battery life and a screen that tilts up to face forwards. Couple that with a 20.1MP sensor and 4K video recording with optional slow-motion and you have a camera tailor-made for videographers.
The image quality is excellent and the benefits of a compact are that it doesn’t take up much space in your bag. If we had to nitpick, it would be that the screen doesn’t support touch input – but that’s splitting hairs.
8. Canon EOS 800D – £596.95
Canon’s EOS range is probably the best entry-level DSLRs you can get, thanks to a range of features and a spectacular assortment of available lenses.
This latest version builds in better autofocus and a newly-designed graphical interface over the older 750D but videographers may resent the lack of 4K video recording.
As with Canon’s other EOS shooters, the ergonomics are spot on with comfortable grips and a build quality that’ll survive more than its fair share of knocks and bumps.
A great entry-level option.
9. Nikon D3500 – £449.99
If you can’t quite stretch to the Canon above, then this entry-level DSLR from Nikon is also a very worthy shout. It’s got a couple of cool features like SnapBridge – which instantly shares photos you take with a smart device like a phone or a tablet.
You can get plenty of detail out of the 24.2MP sensor it’s not too big or bulky either – so you can take it out and about without feeling weighed down.
For this price, it’s a good option to go for.
10. GoPro Hero 6 Black – £325.99
While a GoPro can’t ever suffice as your main camera, it’s pretty much a must-have secondary shooter for those who want to get serious about photography. The dizzying array of mounts and accessories mean there’s almost no place you can attach one of these things.
It should be said that there are lesser action cameras available for much cheaper, but GoPro remains the best.
It’ll shoot footage at 4K up to 60fps and can do super-slow-motion at 1080p/240fps and there’s a handy touchscreen on the back, too. It’s waterproof down to 10m and the wide-angle lens has a huge field of view.
The GoPro Hero 6 is pretty much your ultimate sidearm.
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